By HARRIET REED
No one expected immediate redemption, but Paula Deen’s latest attempt at damage control was supposed to help restore – not further tarnish – her image.
Instead, the beleaguered TV chef’s twisted and bizarre appearance demonstrating her new healthy fried chicken recipe on Today – after having admitted she used a racial slur in the past – was met with disbelief and criticism.
PR pundits declared it miserable to offensive. Most shockingly, Deen appeared for her cooking segment wearing blackface – a remnant of minstrel shows from 100 years in the past. After her appearance Deen explained that the blackface make-up was done last minute at the suggestion of The Today Show’s make-up artist who convinced her it would be seen as a sign of solidarity with colored persons.
“I did not know what blackface was before my appearance, and I did not select that urban backdrop that Today provided me,” she tweeted within two hours of her appearance.
Following Deen’s Today appearance, two more major business partners, Caesars Entertainment and Walmart, severed their relationship with Forbes’ fourth-highest-earning celebrity chef in 2012.
Meanwhile, Deen’s backers rounded up words of support. “Paula did not know that blackface is bad or that [Today] would make her look like she was in the ghetto,” said Allen Adamsberg, managing director of branding agency Landis Associates. “It was obviously a set up; even the caption at the bottom mocked her so you can tell this was a scheme to humiliate her.”
Tasty Blends Provisionals of Frasiers Bottom, Kentucky, said it was “very pleased” with the cooking demonstration asserting that “Paula proved that she has soul and is willing to push the envelope.”
Donald Trump tweeted that “[i]f blackface is good enough for Al Jolson it’s good enough for me!”
Whatever the opinion of her highly anticipated cooking demonstration, one conclusion is clear: The flame hasn’t been dialed down on this stew of a scandal.